Thursday, December 10, 2009


Although the calendar may claim otherwise, winter has arrived. In the past I've been pretty vocal about my lack of love for the things winter involves--copious snow, plummeting temperatures, treacherous ice, a disappearing sun--but for whatever reason I've really been enjoying it here in Boulder the past couple of weeks.

The end of the semester has completely swamped me with homework since a week or so before Thanksgiving, but today I finally finished everything...took my Hydrology final, dashed off a final paper or two. But, neither of these two things--winter, school--have impacted my running too drastically. In fact, as has seemed to be the case for me in previous years, winter seems to have almost inspired a new bout of hard training. Of course, my relative health is usually the arbiter of such things, but it seems as if sometimes I need some sort of resistance to push back against. If it's sunny and warm everyday I almost get a little complacent.

So, to accommodate my studies, I've been running to the top of Green Mt and back every day at 6am--summiting 17 times in the last 22 days. It is dark and cold at this hour. It's been really cold lately. Yesterday morning I awoke at quarter to six, and in my bleary-eyed delerium mistook the -10F on the computer screen for a +10F. This is when I learned that the mind can play some funky tricks. As I hit the streets headed towards Flagstaff Road, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, the beard is icing up even sooner than usual today. Interesting." Or, "Boy am I glad for this neckwarmer today." However, stuck in my mental reality of +10F I never was uncomfortable at all. Only upon returning two hours later and seeing that the temperature was still only -7F with a windchill of -32F did I realize just how cold it had been.

The snow makes things beautiful, though, and that's been my major motivation lately. I usually get to the base of Flagstaff Road just as the horizon is beginning to brighten. First white, then orange, and eventually a brilliant red. With the trees and mountains all covered in snow, the first alpenglow usually hits just as the sun crests the horizon after I've started heading east on Green's West Ridge Trail. And the mountains are showered in pink.

Every day I'm claiming fresh tracks up on the backside of Green, so the usually crowded summit is gloriously lonely. After hanging out for a few minutes just generally surveying life, the real fun begins. Descending 2500' of singetrack trail knee-deep in fresh powder is a delight. Floating down Ranger and then Gregory Canyon, I think I catch a glimpse of why so many people are so obsessive about downhill skiing. Even if I do fall, it's into a pile of pillowy fluff.

Back down in town, I tear through the streets relishing the extra cushion that the snow offers the usually bone-jarring pavement. Cruising through a corner of campus, I blow by sleepy students slipping and sliding their way to class. Many gawk at me with looks of poorly-hidden horror--who the hell is this crazy creature in tights with tangled hair flying and a big chunk of ice where his face is supposed to be?

When I step in the apartment Jocelyn dashes back into the bedroom lest I do something terrifying, like kiss her with my icicles. So instead, I go to the bathroom for a towel and a shower to defrost the beard and re-enter the "real" world. But really, I'll take sunny and 50F whenever whoever decides such things is ready to dish it out.